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Iranian athletes protest by not singing anthem – social media

Social media accounts shared what are allegedly video clips of Iran’s water polo team failing to sing the national anthem at a competition in Thailand. 

The anti-government protest movement interprets the occasion as a show of solidarity from athletes.

The video was shared online by many ordinary Iranian Twitter users.

It showed the men’s team not singing as the Iranian national anthem played at an Asian Championship match against India in Bangkok on Tuesday.

Reuters news agency could not verify the video clips and the Iranian Federation of Swimming, Diving and Water Polo was not available for comment.

Show of support for protests?

Iran’s deputy sports minister, Maryam Kazemipour, said on Wednesday some Iranian female athletes have acted against Islamic norms during international events and apologised for their actions shortly after that, the state news agency reported.

Social media users saw the refusal to sing as a show of support for the eight-week-old protests, one of the biggest challenges to Iran’s clerical leaders since the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

“One of the most radical acts by the Iranian national water polo team. We know sport teams that have sided with the people and we appreciate your support,” said one unverified Twitter user.

Anti-government demonstrations erupted in September after the death of a Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, who had been detained by morality police for allegedly flouting the country’s strict dress code imposed on women.

An Iranian coroner’s report has denied Amini had died due to blows to the head and limbs while in custody and linked her death to pre-existing medical conditions, state media said.

Protests triggered by her death quickly turned into a popular revolt, with a wide range of people taking part, from students to doctors to lawyers to workers to athletes.

This was not the first time that Iranian sports people have taken actions that have been interpreted as gestures of support for the protests.

Support for athletes

Last week, national beach soccer team players refused to sing Iran’s anthem at the beginning of a match against the United Arab Emirates in Dubai, according to a widely followed activist Twitter account known as 1500TASVIR.

Then on Sunday, the players did not cheer or celebrate after defeating Brazil to win the championship, the activist account said.

One Iranian player even celebrated his goal by pretending to cut his hair, a gesture of protest by Iranian women, who have been at the forefront of the protests.

More than 1,000 people have been indicted in Tehran province alone in connection with what the government calls “riots”.

The activist HRANA news agency said 321 protesters had been killed in the unrest as of Monday, including 50 children.

Thirty-eight members of the security forces had also been killed, it said.

State media said last month that more than 46 members of the security forces, including police officers, had been killed. Government officials have not provided an estimate of any wider death count.

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